The Email Broadcast Blog
There’s no doubt that the way of the world is digital. People shop, live stream their favorite shows, keep in touch with friends and family, and even make their medical appointments online. Why should your marketing strategy be any different? Businesses and consumers alike are almost always online, literally. Think about it for a moment. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Okay, second, because coffee before talkie. You check your phone. You skim through emails, scroll through the never-ending sea of baby and political posts on social media, and then check the final score to last night’s game all before you hop in the shower. Wouldn’t you like your business in the forefront of all those peoples’ screens?
When you’re growing a business, it may seem like the ever-evolving world of digital marketing becomes quickly overwhelming. There’s already so much you have to do—how are you going to tap into your creative side, compile a list of ideas, and maintain a well thought out game plan? Start with the basics. We’ve put together a 3-step crash course on getting your digital marketing started.
So, what exactly is digital marketing? It’s the promotion of a brand or products using a variety of electronic media. Think website, social media, and our personal favorite—email. Your strategy is a plan of action that will help you achieve your goals using online marketing. Let’s begin:
1. Identify your goals.
Are you hoping to increase your website traffic? Maybe you want to generate more leads through email? Need to get more reviews? The beauty of digital marketing is that for most things, you’ll be able to measure the results. Create a simple text document or an excel spreadsheet to help keep track of the results of your efforts so you know what’s working.
2. Evaluate your current digital marketing platforms.
Gather all of your channels and put them into these categories:
- Owned: These are any outlets that your business owns. A website, blog, email list— would all go here.
- Earned: This one is all about word-of-mouth—PR work, customer/client reviews, and people sharing your content on their personal pages.
- Paid: A bit self-explanatory, but this includes channels you spend money on, like boosted social media posts, Google AdWords, or sponsored posts on other peoples websites.
Now that you have an inventory of your assets, get to organizing—add these to your spreadsheet so you can start tracking what is working for your business and what isn’t.
3. Create content that can be used across all of your marketing channels.
Congratulations! You’ve come up with a few solid goals and have an idea of what’s helping your business grow. Now comes the fun part—deciding what content is going to help you reach your goals. Content is what helps convert those website visitors, email subscribers, and social media followers into customers or clients. It can be helpful, funny, inspirational or controversial, emotional, or passionate – just make sure it fits your brand. It’s important to come up with a content creation plan that includes your goal, promotional channels, why you’re creating it, and the priority level.
Take these 3 steps, and you’ll have the start of something beautiful—your very own digital marketing strategy.
Imagine yourself at the table with your A Players at the beginning of the year. You’re brainstorming all of the amazing things you’ll achieve by December, and how you might arrive there. You may even identify your goals. Very rarely do you actually start the conversation by creating a so-called marketing plan, right? What we hear most from our clients is that a marketing plan is the last thing anybody wants to write out once annual goals are decided upon. We get it. We’re here to ask you to embrace a new way of planning—story strategy.
Our methods for storytelling come from the wisdom of Bernadette Jiwa. Her books, Story Driven, Marketing: A Love Story, and Make Your Idea Matter: Stand Out with a Better Story are some of our favs. If you want to dive deeper into the act of story building for your brand, we highly recommend them.
What is a story strategy?
A marketing plan is a series of tactics, strategies, and objectives that are intended to get your business noticed. What will really get you noticed is feelings. In other words, the way that your brand makes its intended consumers feel. Think of your favorite Super Bowl commercial. How did it make you feel? Yup, us too. I’m crying at the just the thought of that Subaru commercial, and have even set up a bank account specifically to purchase one for my daughter. She’s one year old, mind you.
If you don’t have a story, you are nobody. Just another piece of dust in the wind, essentially. You didn’t do all of that brainstorming and annual planning to end up being an afterthought.
According to Forbes, Americans alone consume over 100,000 digital words every single day, but 92% say they want brands to tell stories amongst all those words. Stories do all this and more: they help (1) convey your personality, 2) portray your brand as a leader, 3) hit the people in their feels, and 4) keep them coming back for more.
How do you create a story strategy?
Marketing often happens when your customer is telling their colleagues about your product, and how it’s made their life so much better. It happens the moment someone connects feeling to your facebook ad, your commercial, your email, your website, or your brand name.
Take your email marketing campaign for example. Review it and then ask the following questions:
- What is the purpose of this campaign?
- Who is my audience?
- How do I want people to feel when they read my emails?
- What do I want them to do when they are done?
- What impact will my campaign have on my recipients over time?
- What story will subscribers tell about my brand after getting my email messages?
If you have a good plan for the questions above, you’re well on your way to being a great storyteller.
Remember that the heart of your story should be about WHY you do what you do, and why it matters. Are you just trying to sell empty rooms at people’s houses, or are you connecting travelers to a community through local hosts? Are you selling sugar water, or are you helping people enjoy their life and their food? Are you hawking a credit card, or are you creating a feeling of membership and privilege? Be clear, then show us how.
I was once told that a small business relies on the strength of its people, a medium business on the strength of its processes, and a large business on the strength of its values. That transition from people to processes can be one of the hardest jumps for a business to make, but it doesn’t happen at all if you don’t first begin with a strong team—or as we call them, “A” Players.
Our methods for hiring and recruitment come from a book called Who, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. If you have a current a staffing problem or you’re just in the mood for a great business book, we highly recommend it.
What is an “A” Player?
In Who, an “A” Player is described as “someone with at least a 90% chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only the top 10% of candidates could achieve.” Even if you’re as bad at combining percentages as I am (The top 10% of the top 10%? Does that make them the 1%?), you can pretty much get the idea. “A” Players aren’t just great candidates. In a pool of only great candidates, they stand out.
Important note: An “A” Player isn’t just an exceptional employee. They’re an exceptional employee whose areas of expertise fit with what you need done. A candidate with decades of experience managing teams in high pressure environments is only an “A” Player if the role you’re hiring them for requires those skills. If you’re hiring for an entry-level position with a lot of the same, repetitive tasks every day, that person is not an “A” Player for that role. They’re likely to become bored and quit, or make the role more complicated than you intended to keep themselves interested.
How do you find an “A” Player?
The first step to finding an “A” Player is knowing what you’re looking for. You’d think that would be easy, but most companies screw that part up. How many job descriptions have you seen that are way too general? I’ve seen a ton. By looking for someone who can do a little of bit of everything, businesses miss out on finding a candidate who can excel at the things they actually care about.
You might want someone who can write, but also do a little graphic design, but also occasionally manage a team—but which do you actually need? If your company is struggling with mediocre marketing copy, hire for a marketing copywriter. Don’t ask for a general marketing assistant and hope you end up with Don Draper.
Another side benefit of knowing what you’re looking for—your employees will know what they need to do to succeed. By being very clear about what you want most, your future employee will have a clear understanding of where their priorities should be if there is ever a conflict.
Want to know what the next steps to hiring “A” Players are? Buy the book. This isn’t a paid placement and we don’t get any kickbacks, but we do want to support the creators of a methodology that has changed the way we look at hiring (almost immediately for the better).
We are proud to announce that ZooMontana has won $20,000 worth of full-service email marketing for the whopping price of $1.
In the fall of 2017, we challenged ourselves to make a bigger impact in the world. Since we had done it before, we knew offering the gift of email marketing to a deserving non-profit could make a big difference. We decided not to monkey around with a mere consultation or audit, but to completely take over the 2018 email marketing for whichever non-profit was selected.
Thanks to ZooMontana, 2018 is officially our year for lions, tigers, and bears … oh, my!
ZooMontana has been edZOOcating people of all ages on the very best in animal care and conservation since 1992. Although it’s in Montana, it houses animals from all over the world. The 70-acre wildlife park is a fun place to visit and is a safe, stimulating, and healthy home to hundreds of plant and animal species.
Take a walk with us on the wild side and sign up for ZooNews today.
The first step in any successful marketing plan isn’t how you’re going to market your message, but who you’re going to market it to. You could have a perfect campaign with all the ad spend in the world—if it’s being seen by the wrong people, it’s going to be a waste of time and money.
“That’s great, but how do I know who to target?” What a fantastic question, ethereal-voice-from-nowhere-in-particular! That’s exactly what this blog post is going to try to help you with.
Step 1: Find an example your ideal customer.
The “Ideal Customer” is an avatar you create to help make sure you’re focusing on the right things, but that avatar is made up of traits from real people. The easiest way to create your customer avatar? Use your best current customer. They might not be perfect (who is, really) but they’ve got the benefit of already seeing the value in what you offer.
Step 2: Study them.
You’ve got your best customer in mind—let’s call them Pat. It’s time to start dissecting the facts of Pat.
- Where does Pat live?
- What does Pat drive?
- Did Pat go to college? If yes, what type of degree did Pat get/pursue?
- Is Pat married? Single? Divorced? Dating?
- How many dependents does Pat have? Are they children? Elderly parents?
- Does Pat have pets? Dogs, cats, etc? More than one?
- Where does Pat work? What type of income does Pat bring in?
- What does Pat enjoy doing when not at work?
- What social issues does Pat care about?
- What’s the most amount of money Pat is comfortable spending at one time without worrying about it?
- How successful would Pat rate themselves? How happy?
Some of those answers are kind of invasive, and I wouldn’t recommend asking all of them flat-out unless you have a really close relationship with your customer. But you can start by answering the ones you already know and intuit some of the others.
Important note: None of these questions revolved around you or your business. This avatar isn’t about you. It’s about getting to know your customer. When you know what a day in their life is like, what they value and what they don’t, authentic ways to connect with them will come easily.
Step 3: Test your assumptions.
You’ve studied your best customer and you think you’ve got them pegged. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Think your target customer is interested in community outreach and loves dogs? Sponsor an event with your local animal shelter, or host an adoption or vaccination drive outside your store/office.
If you rehome a lot of puppies, but nobody pays your business much attention, you might need to re-evaluate if you’re really a good fit for that group. But, if you end up with a lot of new faces marveling at why they hadn’t heard of you before—congratulations, you’ve successfully targeted your customer.
You’ve been emailing your audience and now you’ve got a ton of data, but how do you know what it’s telling you? Or worse, what if you don’t like what it has to say?
Here are 5 core questions you should be asking yourself when looking at an email:
Did this email add value to my list? Put yourself in the shoes of your customer/client and ask why they want this information. If the answer is “because the quarter was ending and I needed a revenue spike”… that’s not something your customer cares about.
Do I need to adjust my frequency? If you’re seeing steadily declining open rates, your audience may getting numb to all the messages you’re sending. If you’re seeing steady unsubscribes or spam notifications, you may be sending so infrequently that they don’t remember joining your list.
Is my engagement increasing or decreasing? Increasing engagement is awesome, obviously, but it’s important to find out why it’s increasing. If your audience is responding well to any email you send with a video thumbnail, you’ll definitely want to send more videos! If you’ve only been sending videos and they’re growing less and less interested, maybe it’s time to try to some words.
Should I have A/B tested this? I’ll spoil the surprise here—the answer is almost always yes. You can’t know for certain if another subject line, send time, or lead off content might have worked better if you never tried one. (The Exception: You A/B tested this message before & perfected it, and you want to see if your audience will respond to it again or if the messaging always needs to be fresh.)
Should this message become automated? Some messages blow our metrics out of the water. It’s a great day when that happens, but it’s important not to settle for a one-time win. If you think future audience members will benefit just as much, it’s worth turning it into an ongoing automated message to make sure it keeps working for you.
These aren’t the only questions you need to ask yourself when looking at your data, but it’s a great start down the rabbit hole of email analysis.
There’s a reason email marketing is one of the top marketing tools for converting leads. Sure, social media can help you spread your message far and wide, but what other platform allows you to speak to your audience on a personal level?
Okay, okay—when you’re list is in the hundreds of thousands, you’re not really holding a personal conversation. But that’s not the point. The point is that with the right segmentation strategy, your customers will feel like you’re talking directly to them. They’ll feel understood. They’ll feel important. And then they’ll take action.
Did you know that at any given point you have:
- A 60 to 70 percent chance of successfully selling again to a current customer
- A 20 to 40 percent chance of winning back an ex-customer
- A 5 to 20 percent chance of turning a prospect into a customer
If you’re smart about it, segmenting your email marketing lists has an overwhelmingly positive impact on the engagement of your subscribers. The Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report showed that 39 percent of businesses that segmented their email lists increased open rates as a result. In fact, not only did open and click rates go up, but abuse and unsubscribe rates went down.
Did we mention revenue? Segmented campaigns lead to higher real-world conversions. According to DMA, marketers found a 76% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.
Of course, finding the right segmentation strategy for your audience is easier said than done. If you’re not quite sure where to start, you are not alone. 52% of marketers admit that their email database segmentation needs work.
The first step is to understand the different types of segmentation:
By Geography: Segmentation by geography is a great strategy to employ when the location of a buyer plays a role in his or her decision to take action. It’s a great strategy for special events, sales within a specific region, and more. It can also help you stagger your emails by time zone to send out at optimum times.
By Demographics: Different genders and age groups will react diversely to varying content. Segmenting your list by age, gender, income, life stage, and occupation can ensure you’re delivering relevant content to the right people.
By Content: To segment based on your audience’s personal interests, take a look at the content that members of your audience have viewed, clicked on, or downloaded. Most email platforms will allow you to segment for people who have downloaded a whitepaper, so why not follow up with more information?
By Psychographics: Building buyer personas and understanding the values and motivators of your audience is an advanced way to cater to their needs through social media. Though it’s a bit trickier, you can get detailed information about subscribers’ personal interests by creating user profiles on your website or asking your audience to identify preferences with CTAs in your emails.
By Behavior: Your audience’s behavior will depend heavily on where they are in the buying cycle and how familiar they are with your offerings. If you’re using analytics to help track your audience, you can leverage this information to determine how close your customers are to making a purchase—and even what that purchase is most likely to be.
By Engagement Level: One of the most important segmentation strategies is to reward your loyal customers and brand advocates. Whether that’s frequent buyers or people who take the time to read your newsletters, customer loyalty should be nurtured. You can use segmentation to send thank yous, private offers, and feedback requests.
Once you’ve implemented the tools to segment your audience and established your desired strategy, the next step is developing a targeted campaign to engage them. That means developing the right message, offer, design, and voice to drive conversions.
Segmentation Case Study: Ivan Smith
Here’s a real life example of segmentation in action. Our client Ivan Smith Furniture wanted to message their in-house finance customers. That’s a small niche to begin with, but they took it one level further, understanding that this audience had two major groups.
The first group held the Ivan Smith credit card, and the next group consisted of buy-here/pay-here customers. Email Broadcast created a different message for each segment telling them the good news: “Due to your excellent credit history with us, you’re approved to buy more furniture, and here’s a special offer.” These two emails combined were sent to only 7.8% of Ivan Smith’s email list, but the results were outstanding.
The credit card holding audience had a 37% higher than normal open rate and the buy-here/pay-here segment showed an 85% higher than normal open rate and a 50% higher than normal click through rate.
But that’s nothing compared to the business results of these two messages which combined for $400,000 in new sales in a single weekend. Worth doing? You can bet that Ivan Smith Furniture believes in the power of sending targeted messages to a segmented audience.
When you first started your business, we’re willing to bet it’s because you were passionate about your vision, not details like email marketing. But for most companies, email marketing is an essential investment that can provide a huge payoff (when it’s done well).
So what happens when you realize your email marketing just isn’t working?
Before overhauling your current campaign, start by going back to the basics. Whether you’re shuffling things around in-house or you’re engaging an awesome email marketing company (*cough* *cough*) to help you, take the time to consider the following:
- What are your goals? Do you want to engage new customers, re-engage old customers, find new prospects, or a combination of all three? Are you trying to increase sales, build brand awareness, or get people to engage with your company in new ways? What defines success for your company? Having solid goals will guide your campaign strategy and set clear KPIs for measurement.
- Who is your audience…really? This is one of the most important questions, and it’s surprising how often it’s overlooked. First of all, how did you get your list? Are these prospects, existing customers, people who visited your booth at a trade show, or emails you purchased from a vendor? (Fingers crossed it’s not the latter.) Are they primarily men in their 60s or are they women in their 30s? Knowing who you’re talking to will help define a segmentation strategy—and figure out if you’re talking to the right people in the first place.
- What is your brand voice? Are you quirky and fun, or logical and reliable? An awe-inspiring combination of the two? Defining your company’s personality will help shape the nature of your campaign and keep your broadcasts consistent.
- Where are you driving people? If you’re doing email marketing well, you’re going to get clicks. Where should those clicks go? Do you have a robust blog or an awesome Twitter account? Are there areas of your website that seem to get thousands of views or some that have unvisited potential? Make a list of the click worthy content you have that can be used in future broadcasts.
- Who is taking the lead? Who is responsible for making decisions? Whether you’re carrying out your own campaigns or working with a partner like us, assigning a point person is the way to go.
If you know you need a change, the answers to these questions can help you pinpoint where you got off track and the direction you need to be going. That’s an awesome starting point for your internal team and/or the agency you’re planning on working with.
So, what comes next?
If you work with Email Broadcast, we’ll start with a 20 minute consultation that will help us make a recommendation about your company’s specific needs and help you decide if you like us. If you do, our entire team of email marketing pros will brainstorm a list of 100 campaign ideas your audience will love. From there, you’ll be assigned your own dedicated account coordinator—along with a talented designer, a ruthless copy editor, and a nerdy coder to help make your campaigns wildly successful.
We’ll collaborate every step of the way, but you won’t have to carry the extra weight of your email campaigns anymore—and you can focus your energy where it’s needed most. If you don’t like us, or burritos, or chocolate…well, then you’re on your own.
We’re not the right choice for everyone, but if handling your own email marketing is weighing you down, contact us and let’s find out!
The best way to understand the dos-and-don’ts of email marketing is to take a look at your own inbox. Here are some of the most common mistakes you’ve probably experienced firsthand and easy tips to avoid them:
1. Only talking about you.
Solution: We all love a good sale, but if you’re only promoting yourself all day every day, you risk wearing out your audience or cannibalizing your own offers. Add some diversity to your content by following the “Rule of Thirds.”
- ⅓ of your messages is about you and your content, such as that great sale you’re having or your new website launch.
- ⅓ of your messages is adding value to your customer’s life, like those design tips you get from your favorite furniture store.
- ⅓ of your content is creating personal interactions that build your brand, such as “thanks for visiting our store, *|FNAME|*.”
Solution: If you’re the click-bait news in your customer’s inbox, you’re guaranteed to piss them off. Instead of tricking your audience into opening a message, find creative ways to say what you REALLY mean. Your subject lines should communicate the real benefits of your promotion in 50 characters or less.
Not sure if you’re hitting the mark? Adestra has an awesome subject line keyword checker to make sure you’re on track.
Solution: Part of what makes email marketing so special is that it feels personal—even if we know it isn’t. But that connection is quickly lost when your email is riddled with typos and your content is haphazard. Above all else, your messages should communicate one thing to your customers: you are important. To make sure your content is up to par, stay a month (or two) ahead of your messages. That gives you plenty of time to create, copy edit, adapt, keep your list data clean—and even change your mind.
Solution: Despite what that list salesman is telling you, if you didn’t acquire your contacts yourself, you’re a spammer. Period. If your list is purchased (or just dated), not only are you risking your reputation, but you could be breaking the law, too. Take the time to build a list the right way. It takes longer, but it will pay off.
Not sure how to go about it? We have solutions for that.
Solution: Ever get an email from a company you haven’t heard from in so long that you forgot they even existed? We have, too. Finding the right email frequency can result in higher opens, fewer unsubscribes, and opportunities to do more business with email marketing. The right cadence will vary from business to business, but if you don’t have time to send monthly messages, you’re better off outsourcing your email marketing or focusing your attention elsewhere. Remember that 73% of email recipients say the frequency is their primary reason for opting out of a list, so take the time to investigate what works for your customers.
How do you honestly feel about email marketing? For some, it’s a weapon of evil. For others, it’s an extremely effective, lucrative marketing tool—and one that is definitely worth investing in. So, why the discrepancy?
A lot of companies that use email marketing don’t realize it’s all about managing relationships. You need to approach it with tender loving care. If you aren’t completely sold on it, you’re not going to sell your audience. If you’re half-assing it or making it all about you, people probably aren’t going to like you. And if you lose that spark, your audience might find it somewhere else.
But don’t let the people doing email marketing the wrong way dissuade you from what’s possible. We’ve seen first-hand how good email marketing has the power to transform a business, nurture relationships, strengthen a brand, and help rake in dollar bills.
This might sound like a sales pitch, and it is—in part. We help our clients use email marketing effectively, so they can reap the benefits. That may be a pitch, but it’s also the truth.
Here are some unbiased, big-picture email marketing benefits every business owner should know:
It’s already benefitting your competition. Ninety-five percent of companies using marketing automation are taking advantage of email marketing and 64% of those marketers say they saw benefits within months of implementation. (regalix.com)
It is responsible for nearly a quarter of sales. On average, companies attribute 23% of their total sales to the email marketing channel. (adestra.com)
It isn’t going anywhere. Ninety-one percent of consumers check their email daily and that number is only expected to grow. (exacttarget.com)
It’s more effective than social media. Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter combined (idc.com). Email campaigns generate six times more click-throughs than tweets do. (campaignmonitor.com)
It drives more purchases than competing platforms. Email has the highest conversion rate (66%) for purchases when compared to social media and direct mail. (thedma.org)
It is the king of ROI. For every $1 spent, email marketing can generate up to $43 in ROI. That’s 4,300 percent. (entrepreneur.com)
Your customers like it. Seventy-two percent of consumers say that email is their favored form of business communication. Sixty-one percent say they like to receive promotional emails weekly and 28% want them even more frequently. (marketingsherpa.com)
It builds longer customer relationships. The lifetime value of customers acquired through email is 12% higher than average, while Twitter is 23% lower than average. (custora.com)
Mobile optimization is crucial. People in the United States across all age groups check their phones an average of 46 times daily. Not surprisingly, click-through rates on mobile-centric emails are 23% higher than those built solely for desktop users. (time.com, emailmonday.com)
Most companies don’t have time to do it right. Only 10% of companies employ individuals who are dedicated to email marketing. Email marketing responsibility falls to employees as part of their wider marketing responsibilities in 40% of companies surveyed. (adestra.com)
Bottom line? The numbers don’t lie. Email marketing (done well) is a kickass tool you can’t afford to skip.